Gde's Story: From Farmer to Wooden Toy Craftsman

Posted by Mandy Abel on

Gde is one of our talented artisans who works in Indonesia creating some of our favourite wooden toys and educational resources. Here, in his own words, he tells his story...

My name is Gde, I come from a village right near Mount Batur, which is named Batur Village, Kintamani District, Bangli Regency. I was born and grew up in the family of a farmer.

Growing up, my daily life after school was helping my parents in the garden, such as raising cows and looking for firewood to sell.

After graduating from junior high school, I decided to work. The place where I worked for the first time was at one of the restaurants in my village, namely Lake View Restaurant and I worked at that restaurant for a long time. After a few years I worked there, I wanted to get to know more people to add to my experience, I finally decided to migrate to Denpasar City with my wife.

The job I took while in Denpasar was as a car washer and my wife worked as a garment maker. As a car washer, I had to work at night until the early hours of the morning. Despite this, I was very happy with the job and did it for about a year.

In between working hours, I took the time to learn how to drive, thanks to my wife's support and high interest in learning, I was able to master it quickly and started working in a transport company for approximately two years. With the abilities I have, I decided to start my own career.

With meager capital, I bought a car with credit at the bank and worked with a travel agent in the Kuta area and lived it for 4 years. After leaving the agency, I became a freelance driver to get more opportunities and worked with travel agents from China for several years.

Fair Trade is Changing Lives

In the midst of this collaboration, I met a tourist from Australia named Sonya. Every time she came to Bali, she asked me to take her shopping for wood crafts.  After several years of taking her shopping for wood crafts, I wanted to learn to be a wood craftsman. I did not have a background as a craftsman and do not understand wood and other things related to wood. But I did have a strong desire and determination.

I began to learn to make one of Sonya's products, some simple stars and flowers. At that time, I started to learn about wood. But at that time I was not familiar with machines for production, only using a knife and sanding with my hands.

The results of the stars and flowers that I made, turned out to be liked by Sonya and she gave me a new craft making stackers, which she also liked. From that moment on, Sonya started giving me orders and trust to produce so many orders.

I am very happy and very responsible in carrying out my work so that I always produce the best goods. And I am very grateful because during the covid-19 pandemic I can still work and help some of my closest people who have dropped out of work to join my work team. I have been doing this work since 2017 until now.
 
That's the story of my life experience which at first was just a farmer and now a wooden toy craftsman, thank you so much from me. 

Ethically Hand Crafted Wooden Toys from Indonesia

Image supplied: Gde handcrafting his beautifully made wooden toys

Why Supporting Fair Trade Matters

The arrival of COVID-19 in Indonesia plunged Bali (one of the country’s richest provinces) into an economic crisis. Chronic malnutrition (already a problem in isolated communities) increased in Bali, now affecting many living in urban areas too. 

Before COVID struck, around 60 percent of Bali’s gross domestic product was attributed to tourism, which meant the island’s economy was the hardest hit by the pandemic. 

Many villages have no roads, electricity, phone or internet reception. People survive on whatever crops they can grow and money sent by family members who have moved to urban areas for tourism jobs and handouts. Families are broken apart which can have a long lasting impact. With the huge increase in demand, paired with the lack of work, NGOs have reported that thousands of people on the island are going hungry.

Making a Difference

Purchasing ethically made toys and educational resources from small scale artisans like Gde, enables fair employment and consistent work even during tough times like a global pandemic.

From humble beginnings, Gde grew his business to provide his beautiful products on a larger scale, also supporting others in his community with fair wages and livelihoods in the process. We are so proud to stock his products (currently exclusively in New Zealand) and know that with every purchase we are supporting families who may otherwise have few options.

View the full range of Gde's beautiful work, including his gorgeous stackers, spinning tops (a personal favourite) and honeycomb and beehive set (a best seller!) 🐝

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